Tonight's game 6 appears to be a replay of game 2. The pitchers, Angel Kevin Appier and Giant Russ Ortiz, are the same and again it will be played in Anaheim's Edison Field. Again the Giants lead the Angels by one game after having won the previous meeting just as in game 2. The circumstances, however, are much different given that the Angels are now facing elimination.
What can we look for in game 2? Each team hopes that its pitcher goes a bit farther this time around. In game 2, Ortiz lasted only 1-2/3 allowing seven runs on nine hits. Appier lasted two innings and allowed five runs on five hits including three home runs. Each team would love to take the pressure off their relief corps. The Angels will probably choose not to rely in Ben Weber who gave up five runs in game 5, but do have Francisco Rodriguez, Brendan Donnelly, lefty Scott Schoeneweis, and closer Troy Percival rest and ready to go. The Angels will also have the bat of Brad Fullmer re-inserted in the lineup. The Angels hope a return to Anaheim will help revive their bats. They have scored only seven runs in the last two games and did not score after the sixth in either game.
The Giants hope that Jeff Kent's return to productivity in game 5 was not short-lived. They hope to keep the pressure on the Angels by having Bonds sandwiched between two productive hitters in Kent and Benito Santiago. They hope that the top two hitters, Lofton and Aurilia, continue to get on as they did in game five collecting five hits and five runs. They hope that the bottom of the order continues to produce. They hope that the bullpen continues to dominate (2.82 ERA in the Series while pitching more innings than the starters). The only negatives for the Giants is that they have to play in Anaheim and that they have to insert one of the subpar players on the bench in the lineup as DH (or rather that the Angels get to insert a pretty good batter as theirs).
Really, there is no reason not to think that the Giants will clinch their first championship since moving from New York tonight. But that's why the play the games. The pressure may be on the Angels to avoid elimination tonight, but the last thing the Giants want is play game 7 in front of Anaheim's exuberant fans. It will be important for both teams to get on the scoreboard first and try to get to the bullpen as quickly as possible. If the Angels break out first, they might find the Giants starting to look forward to game 7. The Giants don't have that luxury, as the Angels will throw every thing but the game 7 starter at them.
I expect a much lower scoring game than game 2 but one probably just as close. What Kent and Santiago do will probably dictate the outcome from the Giants' side. The Angels need to start bunching their hits again. They only got two or more hits in a row three times in the last two games, each time scoring at least a run. They will need better production from their number 2 to number 5 hitters than they have gotten in the last two games.
Predictions: Kent continues comeback.
Both pitchers go at least 4 innings.
The Angels' offensive returns.
Francisco Rodriguez gives up the go-ahead run in the sixth or seventh inning.
The Giants win 6-5.
Game 7 Preview (even if unnecessary):
Neither team has a great option for a starting pitching in game 7. It would be Ramon Ortiz' spot, but he is suffering from tendonitis in the wrist of his pitching hand. Game 4 starter would be the best option. For the Giants it is Livan Hernandez's turn but his star has fallen dince his game 3 performance (6 runs, 5 earned in 3-2/3).
If the Angels win tonight, I think they win tomorrow as well.